Masks: What you need to know

Why should we wear masks?                              

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the South African government have enforced wearing cloth/fabric face masks.  A cloth/fabric face mask is not intended to protect the wearer but could prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to those around them.

Please take note that that the recommended cloth/fabric face masks are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Surgical masks and N-95 respirators are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical practitioners.

A fabric face mask should not be placed on children under the age of 2 years, anyone who is struggling to breathe, incapacitated, unconscious or unable to remove the mask independently.


 How do masks decrease the risk of covid-19 spreading?

Masks reduce airborne transmission. Infected particles are released during breathing, speaking, coughing and sneezing.  By wearing a mask, the risk for expelling infected particles is decreased.

Fabric face masks should always be used in combination with other hygienic methods of prevention (washing hands, social distancing etc.)




How to wash fabric masks?

According to the WHO and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), cloth/fabric masks must be washed before first use and after every use.  You should always wash your mask when it is soiled or dirty.

Thus, they recommend that each person has at least two masks – one in use and another either in the wash or ready for use.

Machine wash:  temperature above 60 degrees is recommended. The mask may be washed with other laundry items.  Use normal detergent.

Hand wash:  use warm soapy water and soak for 5 minutes.  Rinse with cool water.

Drying masks:

  • Hang in direct sunlight OR
  • Tumble dry on the highest temperature setting

Iron your mask after it has dried.

Remember to remove any filters before every wash and replace before next use or wash.  Then re-use according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step-by-step guide to wear a fabric mask

  1. Wash your hands before touching your mask.
  2. Inspect the mask to see if it is dirty or damaged and DO NOT wear it if it is.
  3. Cover your mouth, chin and nose with the cloth part of the mask at all times.
  4. Adjust the elastics to fit around your head or ears and make sure the mask has a snug fit on your face – with no gaps between your skin and the mask.
  5. Avoid touching the mask or your face at all times.
  6. Wash your hands before removing the mask.
  7. Remove the mask by only touching the elastics behind your head or ears and pull the mask away from your face.
  8. Store the mask in a clean, dry bag if you plan on using it again, or pop it into the wash to be cleaned, at least once a day.
  9. Wash your hands again after handling the mask.


  • Do not wear a mask that is dirty or damaged.
  • Do not wear a mask that is too loose on your face.
  • Do not wear your mask under your nose or around your neck.
  • Do not remove your mask if you are around people and cannot maintain a distance of 1m from others.
  • Do not share your mask with others.
  • VISORS do not replace masks. Visors simply protect you from oncoming respiratory droplets – they do not stop the spread of your own respiratory droplets. If wearing a visor, a mask needs to be worn at all times.









Tips for exercising with a face mask on

A few months ago, the idea of going out to run with your nose and mouth completely covered wouldn’t have even crossed our minds. It would have actually have seemed a bit ridiculous. But since the government made it law that a person must wear a face mask which covers the nose and mouth when in a public space to help slow the spread of COVID-19, strapping on a mask after lacing up has become a reality.

Like so many aspects of life within the pandemic, masked running takes some getting used to. You may notice that your pace is slightly slower than usual, or you feel fatigued faster.

Compared with normal breathing, wearing any kind of protective mask decreases the flow of air into your lungs. Less oxygen in your lungs means less oxygen in your bloodstream and your working muscles, which is what makes training more difficult.

Anyone, even those who have a relatively high level of fitness, should expect to fatigue faster when exercising with a face mask. The good news is that over a few weeks, your body will adapt by becoming more efficient at metabolizing oxygen.

Should you start to feel lightheaded, dizzy and have shortness of breath while exercising with a mask on, stop and take a rest until the symptoms have past. Taking deeper, slower breaths will also help.

Face masks vary in their levels of airflow restriction, depending on the type and thickness of material. When exercising try use a mask made of thinner material, or one which fits slightly looser over your face and will give less resistance when breathing.

So, if you’re feeling discouraged by a tough masked run, there is reassurance knowing that it’ll probably pay off down the line. With races cancelled and postponed, now isn’t the time to try and smash your PR. Try on maintaining a running routine that feels manageable, supports your mental health, and allows you to adhere to social distancing rules.

Breastfeeding in an Era of COVID-19

With the global Covid-19 pandemic, we are all doing very well to protect ourselves and others from the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. We follow all the guidelines, including maintaining a physical distance (2m) as well as regular hand hygiene (thorough 20-second hand wash or hand sanitizer).


So, what happens with breastfeeding during this time?


Fortunately, protecting your baby is like protecting yourself.

Scientists are still learning about this new virus, and medical research is ongoing. But from what experts know so far, it is safe to breastfeed your baby. However, this situation calls for some special precautions, especially if you have any symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19.

Researchers have not yet found SARS-CoV-2 in breast milk, though research is limited.


Guidelines for “safe” breastfeeding

If you can breastfeed your baby, it is important to keep it up. But there are special guidelines to protect your baby during this pandemic.

While we have already established that you likely cannot pass on the new coronavirus through your breast milk, you can still pass it through droplets from your mouth and nose or by touching your baby after coming in contact with your face or these droplets.


  1.  Wash your hands frequently & carefully before
  • * touching your baby,
  • * especially before and after you pick up your baby or
  • * handle baby bottles and other baby items.


  1. Wear a mask while you are breastfeeding your baby – even if you do not have symptoms.

Also, wear a mask while you are holding, changing, or talking to your baby. This will likely be uncomfortable for you, but it can help prevent a coronavirus infection.


  1. Disinfect surfaces
  • * Clean and disinfect anything you have touched with an alcohol-based cleaner. This includes counter tops,       changing tables, bottles and clothing.
  • * Also, clean surfaces that are widely used and may be contaminated with droplets, e.g. door handles, toilet     flushing mechanisms, taps.
  • * Carefully clean and disinfect everything that might touch your baby.


  1. Pump breast milk and have your partner or a family member feed your baby.
  • * Wash your hands and clean any area of skin the breast pump will touch.
  • * Ensure that the bottle is completely sterile by placing it in boiled water between feedings.
  • * Disinfect the breast milk parts carefully with boiled water or soap and water.


  1. Keep baby formula on hand if you feel you are ill or have symptoms of COVID-19. Keep baby formula and sterile baby bottles on hand ready to go, just in case.


Breast milk provide baby with immunity

Breast milk gives your baby protection against several kinds of illnesses. Breast milk not only fills your baby’s hungry tummy, it also gives them automatic — but temporary — immunity against some bacteria and viruses.


Medical research on another kind of coronavirus (SARS-CoV) found antibodies to it in breast milk. Antibodies are like little soldiers that look for a certain kind of germ and get rid of it before it can cause harm. Your body makes antibodies when you contract an illness or when you get a vaccine for it.


Risks of breastfeeding currently

Talk to your doctor if you must use any medication.

They may tell you not to breastfeed your baby or give your baby pumped breast milk if you are taking certain medications for a SARS-CoV-2 infection or other viral infection.

So, while there is currently no established treatment for COVID-19, it is an evolving situation. Not all the drugs being considered as potential treatments have lactation data.

If you have severe COVID-19 symptoms, do not try to breastfeed. You need your energy to help you recover from this infection.


Bonding – with precautions

With a new baby you almost always go unknowingly into a type of self-isolation, even before Covid-19!

As we self-isolate to protect ourselves, our families, and everyone else, some things are quite different. This includes breastfeeding your baby. Do not worry. This is all temporary.

Meanwhile, here is what breastfeeding (or bottle-feeding) your baby may look like for now:

  1.  You hear your baby stirring and know he is about to let out the hungry cry, but
  2.  you take a few minutes to carefully wash your hands with warm water and soap.
  3.  Put your face mask on, carefully touching the elastic ties that go around your ears only. This virus travels     speedily through tiny droplets from the mouth and nose.
  4.  Put on a pair of sterile gloves to open the door to your baby’s room and turn off the baby monitor. Get   everything ready for feeding. Corona viruses can live on plastic, stainless steel, and cardboard surfaces.
  5.  Take off the gloves carefully without touching the outsides — you do not want to re-infect your hands.
  6.  Alternatively, use a hand sanitizer just before handling your baby.
  7.  Smile with your eyes, softly singing, talking and calling baby’s name as you pick up your baby. Your baby   does not notice the mask — they are used to it, and besides, they are hungry.
  8.  Your baby snuggles into your lap, “tummy to mommy”, and is ready to eat.
  9.  Avoid touching your own face and your baby’s face, gently caressing the back instead.
  10.  As your baby feeds, you keep your hands and attention on him. Touching your phone, laptop, or     anything else risks infecting your clean hands and baby.
  11.  Relax and bond as he feed himself into a peaceful slumber.


You do not have to miss out on this precious bonding while taking precautions.


Contact your physiotherapist at 021-976 4832 or should you experience any problems.